Bill proposing whistleblower scheme adopted ‒ report on suspicion of COVID-19-related fraud
On 4 June 2020, the Danish Parliament passed a Bill proposing a whistleblower scheme to prevent and uncover fraud in relation to aid received under the Danish Business Authority’s COVID-19-related compensation scheme.
The scheme will be established by the Danish Business Authority and will cover the five commercial compensation schemes under the Danish Business Authority's management. It will provide employees and others with the possibility to report suspicions of fraud in relation to aid received from the compensation schemes to the Danish Business Authority.
Reports will be made using NemID and thus will not be anonymous vis-à-vis the Danish Business Authority. Certain measures have been taken, though, to protect the identity of the whistleblower, among them being a special confidentiality obligation on the part of DBA employees and a deviation from i.a. data protection rules on duty of disclosure and right of access.
The Danish Business Authority requests that organisations do not report each other anonymously, but is nonetheless obliged to process all reports received, whether by anonymous callers or named persons.
The Act prohibits businesses from subsequently sanctioning an employee who has reported a (potential) breach to the business to the Danish Business Authority in relation to the salary compensation schemes rules. A business must not, therefore, subject employees or former employees to unfavourable treatment or unfavourable consequences such as dismissal, demotion, transfer, harassment, etc. If it does so, the employee will be entitled to compensation under the Danish Equal Treatment Act. For the purpose of determining the amount of compensation, the length of the employment and other facts of the case will be taken into account.
The Act will take effect upon publication in the Danish Law Gazette.
Read the adopted bill.
Kromann Reumert’s comments
Danish employers are increasingly implementing whistleblower schemes, both in the private and public sector. On 7 October 2019, the EU adopted a whistleblower directive obliging all employers with 50 or more employees and all legal entities in the public sector, except minor municipalities, to establish whistleblower schemes. The directive requires Member States to adopt national whistleblower acts not later than by the end of December 2021. More on this in our article published 8 October 2019.
The interesting fact about the new Act is that the whistleblowers can report concerns or suspicions directly to an external public authority, namely the Danish Business Authority, specifically in relation to commercial compensation schemes. Thus, the whistleblower scheme is not an internal scheme operated by the enterprise in question. The objective of the whistleblower scheme is to strengthen the Danish Business Authority's monitoring of payments from the COVID-19 compensation schemes, and this external solution will very likely contribute to the purpose.
See also our article on Parliament’s amendments to criminal law in connection with "relief package fraud".